Monday, February 14, 2011

B&B in Gaspé - Gite en Gaspésie

On our overnight stop along the way to the Chic Choc Mountain Lodge, we had the distinct pleasure of meeting Odette and Jean-Robert, owners of the beautiful Le Chant d'Or B&B (Google translation) with a magnificent view of the St-Lawrence Seaway. If you are looking for a B&B in this area, we strongly recommend you consider this option.

(Photo - Odette & Jean Robert Soucy)

Lors d'un arrêt pour la nuit en route vers l'Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs, nous avons eu le grand plaisir de rencontrer Odette et Jean-Robert, propriétaires du beau gite Le Chant d'Or avec un vue spectaculaire du fleuve St-Laurent. Si vous êtes a la recherche d'un gite dans cette région, nous vous suggérons fortement cette option.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge - Gaspésie, Québec

The Appalachian mountains stretch from the state of Alabama in the south to the province of Newfoundland in the north.

The Northern Appalachians range includes the Chic-Chocs mountains, located in Gaspé region of the province of Québec.

Gaspé was recently chosen as one of the 20 Best Trips of 2011 by National Geographic Traveler editors.

It was from the small town of Cap-Chat (known for it's extensive network of wind turbines) that we loaded our gear in a trailer an got on a shuttle bus for a ride along the picturesque Cap-Chat salmon river, up to a rendez-vous point 30 minutes away.

We then transferred gear and passengers into two Mattracks equipped "Snow Coaches" (converted Ford E350 passenger vans) for a 90 minute ride up to the secluded playground of the Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge.

Arriving late in the afternoon, we were greeted by and introduced to all of the staff. We then had time to unpack in a very well appointed room with a spectacular view of Mount Coleman as seen below.

We then joined the staff and other guests by the glass enclosed fireplace in the spectacular dining room for our first taste of the "local" Pit Caribou beer while we browsed the extensive wine list before making our selection for the upcoming meal.

In what was going to be a repeat performance five nights in a row, world-renowned chef Alain Laflamme prepared an outstanding meal for all to share around two or three large tables. The staff (including guides) participate in the meal with the guests, making for some lively and interesting discussions.

This is an all inclusive resort (including guides, sporting equipment, avalanche equipment and two-way radios) with the exception of wine/beer/spirits that are extra, as are the various items in the fairly well stocked boutique.

For those venturing beyond the Spa-Sauna-Sofa (the 3 S's), the lodge offers four main activities:
  • Alpine Touring, a cross between off-trail cross-country skiing and downhill skiing.
  • Meta Skiing, a very unique mix of snowshoeing and skiing (both cross-country and telemark)
  • Split-Boarding, a snowboard that splits in two for climbing.
Our first snowshoe outing was to the "Button de l'Est" (East Button). This is rated as a 2-hour Intermediate trail, 4 km (2.5 miles) long with 190m (600 ft) of vertical. Here we are at the top of the Button.

If you were looking closely (you can click on picture to see full-size), that's the mountain lodge that you see near the top of the hill behind and to the right. Below is a zoomed-in view from the same vantage point.

It's now that you start to appreciate the remote location of this lodge and the very large (64 sq. km or 25 sq miles) playground available to the guests.

Following a very hearty meal including hot soup and desert, we set out in the afternoon for Chute Hélène (Helen Falls). Here is a view of the valley down to the falls (in the bottom right corner).

This is rated as a 2-3 hour intermediate trail with 5km (3 miles) long and 230 meters (750 ft) of vertical. Below is a close-up view of the 50m (160 ft) high falls.

There is a short loop next to the lodge that provides great views for very low effort. It's rated as an easy 1-hour trail, 1.7 km (1 mile) long with 60 meters (200 ft) of vertical. From this trail you can get a great view of the adjoining valley...

...looking back at Mount Coleman and the snow-bowl next to the Mattawees...

...and the impressive Mount Nicol-Albert....

We also climbed Mount 780, named after it's elevation of 780 m (0r 2500 ft). On the way up we had some good views of the lodge.

The view from the top was rather impressive and gave us a chance to cool off a bit after all the climbing we had done.

On the way back to the lodge from Mount 780, there's a good view of Lac du Versant in the Grand-Fond (Large-Bottom) sector.

On the last day, I had the opportunity to catch this woodpecker in action a few feet away from me on the loop behind the lodge.

Here are three different views of the impressive Mount Coleman.

While we were there, the heliport was busy flying some well known people in/out of the lodge, including:
In closing, a sincere word of thanks to Guy Laroche and his outstanding team for a great opportunity to unwind in world-class lodge located in the breath-taking Chic-Chocs mountains.

For a free electronic copy of the Stay Guide for the mountain lodge, click here.

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